The Colorado Lege has folded its tents and ridden off into the sunset.
We can all breathe easier again. Our Legislature isn't nearly as
exciting as the one in Texas, but I still think Molly Ivins has the best
description of state government. "The Legislature is, among other
things, the finest free entertainment in Texas. Better than the zoo.
Better than the circus."
Back in 1994 I started a tradition of choosing The Annual Most
Ridiculous Piece of Legislation Award. The first year we had a tie
between the Trout Bill and the Flag Bill. The first blew the rainbow
out of the water and named the Greenback Cutthroat Trout the state
fish. The flag bill required that a flag be on display at all times in
all 33,000 classrooms and courtrooms in our fair state. I honor and
respect the flag, but that kind of silliness demeans it.
The last couple of years the Lege has been so busy trying to control our
personal lives that they barely had time to handle the state government
chores like budget and taxes and transportation . So this year I
continue the slightly changed award to "The Most Ridiculous Piece of
Legislation That We Were Spared."
My number one choice is the Patriotism bill. This is related to the
Flag bill of 1994 and the more recent 10 Commandments bill, and makes
even less sense. It would have required the teachers and students in
every classroom in each public school in the state of Colorado to begin
each school day by reciting aloud the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
By graduation the poor kid would have recited it by rote 2400 times, and
probably would never be able to say it again. You can't create true
patriotism by law. You have to teach it by example and by helping our
children understand our government and their obligation to it. Maybe
the sponsors of the bill should go back to school. Fortunately, the
But if you really want to show your patriotism, another bill that was
defeated would give anyone the right to "display reasonably the U. S.
flag on his or her person. Last week I saw a flag moving down Main
Street on the seat of a pair of pants. Now there was a true patriot,
coming and going!
When the Lege gets to fooling around with modern science and social
issues, it's out of its league. The "two mommies" bill, and another
attempt to define a human being both went down to defeat, for which we
owe a debt of gratitude.
But our legislators do work during those 120 days and in spite of all
its flaws our system of government is the best the world has ever known.
All is not serious, though. There were some interesting moments. Four
days before the session was over the State Patrol called a fire drill to
test the state's response plan. Three Republican Senators, including
our own Ron Teck, said that it was a waste of their time and refused to
leave, Later a Democratic colleague moved that a vacancy committee be
formed to replace the three lawmakers "lost" in the fire."
There were other interesting comments.
"Even though Stan (Matsunakak) bought the doughnuts, he glazed over the
subject." Dan Hopkins after 75 minute meeting on transportation.
"I about had to break my gavel block up there." Speaker Doug Dean
scolding members of the Republican Caucus.
Rep Shawn Mitchell, when his committee got off to a slow start while
Middle School students were present said, "If there were any students
here who were aspiring politicians, we cured them of that."
"The amendment I put forward is well within the mental capacity of this
committee to understand." Rep. Mark Paschall during exchange over when
he could amend a bill.
The last word goes to Rep. Gayle Berry, a member of the Joint Budget
committee, who spent a lot of her time poring over numbers. She
commented, "Balancing the budget was one of the major issues of the 2002
session. State revenues continued to decline. It gave deeper meaning
to the adage, 'Those who live by the crystal ball end up eating glass.'